Richard Fennell

What does software craftsmanship mean to me?

I read Pete’s book on software craftsmanship a few years ago and at the time it struck a nerve, it seemed right, though at odds with the way our industry (and many others) seemed to work. We, as an industry, seem to be focused on courses, exams etc. not experience. I see too many graduates who seem to think the time for learning is over now they have a degree and a vast number of supposedly professional developers who have made no effort to keep up with any developments in their craft unless they are forced to, usually in the form of being sent on a course, which they seem to see as a holiday.

Now I suspect this related to something I wrote about recently ( there seem to be three broad groups in our industry

  • People who go to events (free or otherwise) during office hours e.g. day conferences – not self starting learners
  • People who will go an event in their own time, but it is a passive learning experience – like a community run conference on a Saturday or a speaker at an evening user group - willing to make an effort but not ready to contribute back to the community yet, probably because they don’t feel ready.
  • People who want to discuss what they do either in a user group over a beer or at an Open Spaces format conference

I fear that software craftsmanship will be of most interest to the second two groups, but most needed by the first.

As to where I sit in the software craftsmanship skill range, I opted for journeyman. My career has jumped around a bit between electronics test, IT pro style work, software development and back to software test automation. I think I have a good level of JOT (for those of you old enough to have played Traveller you will remember is this Jack Of all Trades) but I have never stayed in any role long enough to be a master, it might even be argued, even by me, that I am little more than an apprentice. However I wonder if many people will reach master status due to the speed things change, I supose it comes down to whether we are considering the mastering of a specific technology or of a concept.

Looking at the list on this site thus far there does seem a lack of willingness for attendees rank themself as master – I think buying into the software craftsmanship and the whole agile continual development ideas will make people realise there is always so much more to learn. So will play down what skills they have.

Anyway I am keen to hear others ideas on this subject, so se you at the conference.

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